While the rest of the world seems to be melting down, 2020 is going to be a big year for the major gaming brands. Both PlayStation and Xbox will be launching new hardware in the coming months, and Microsoft is already preparing for that transition to the new generation of console. They also announced some of how Project xCloud will work once it comes out of beta and releases to the public.
The first and most immediate move has been for several of the current generation of Xbox consoles to be discontinued. This includes all variants of the Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. Despite the fact that the Xbox Series X is not slated to release until the 2020 Holiday season, the availability of the current consoles is already depleted. The Microsoft Store and Amazon already show limited or no availability on both devices, while Best Buy shows all consoles out of stock and Wal-Mart only has them from third-party sellers for a massive markup. Some of the availability issues could be related to increased demand during the lockdown, but it could also become permanent if production has ended.
On a more positive note, the company also gave us some further clarification on the future of Project xCloud, Microsoft's Xbox game streaming service. In November, the company announced that the service would be integrated into the Game Pass family, but gave no real details about what that meant. This week, we learned that the feature will be a free addition to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which has been called the best deal in gaming.
The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service currently offers a combination of Xbox Game Pass Console ($9.99), Xbox Game Pass PC ($9.99), and Xbox Live Gold ($9.99) for one price of $14.99 per month. Adding the ability to use Project xCloud (or whatever it ends up being called) will make this deal even harder to pass up. However, for those not interested in subscribing to Ultimate, there is no word what the standalone price will be, assuming it will be offered as a standalone service.
Project xCloud will be generally available and be added to the service starting in September. It promises access to "over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles." While this is a smaller selection than the available games on the other platforms, streaming rights can be difficult to secure, so it's an expected situation. The title count still exceeds the current game selection in beta and the selection available from Google's Stadia.